Types of Hearing Tests

Your Plano audiologist will need to run a series of tests in order to determine your type and degree of hearing loss. This information is important as it is what they base their treatment recommendations on.  

Below are the seven most common tests that make up a comprehensive audiology evaluation. Keep in mind, not every test is required.   

Pure Tone Testing

Types of Hearing Tests

Pure tone audiometry, more commonly known as pure-tone testing, uses air conduction to measure your ability to hear sounds of various pitches and volumes. You will wear a set of headphones and a series of tones will be played. You will be asked to either raise your hand, press a button or respond verbally every time you detect a tone.   

The results from this test are recorded on an audiogram, which is just a visual representation of your hearing loss.  

Bone Conduction Testing 

This method is another type of pure-tone testing but instead of relying on aid conduction it uses bone. This allows the tester to measure your inner ear’s response to sounds while bypassing any damage or blockage in the outer or middle ear.  

A small device is placed behind the ear. It sends out a vibration that passes through the skull bone to reach the inner ear. 

If the results of this test are different than the air conduction test, your Plano hearing specialist can use this information to determine if you have conductive or sensorineural hearing loss. 

Speech Testing 

Speech (or word recognition) testing is used to measure your speech reception threshold (SRT), which is also known as the faintest speech you can understand 50 percent of the time. The results from this are compared with your pure-tone test results in order to confirm the diagnosis. Your ability to separate speech from background noise will also be recorded. 

 This test can be administered in either a quiet or noisy environment. Like the other tests, the results from your speech testing will be recorded on an audiogram.  


 Tympanometry is used to detect fluid, wax buildup, eardrum perforations and tumors in the middle ear. It measures movement of the eardrum in response to air pressure; the results are recorded on a chart called a tympanogram.  

Acoustic Reflex Test  

The acoustic reflex test measures involuntary muscle contractions of the middle ear and is used to determine the location of your hearing problem (the ossicles, cochlea, auditory nerve, etc.) as well as the type of hearing loss. 

Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR) 

Auditory brainstem response testing is used to determine whether you are suffering from sensorineural hearing loss. ABR is also commonly used to screen newborns for hearing problems. 

In an ABR test, electrodes are attached to your head, scalp or earlobes and you are given headphones to wear. Your brainwave activity is measured in response to sounds of varying intensities.  

Otoacoustic Emissions (OAES) 

Otoacoustic emissions (OAEs) are faint sounds generated by the vibrations of the hair cells in the cochlea of your inner ear. Those with normal hearing will produce these emissions; those with a hearing loss exceeding 25 to 30 decibels will not.   

A tiny probe fitted with a microphone and speaker is used to test for OAEs. The speaker stimulates the cochlea and the probe measures the response.  

This test helps determine whether there is a blockage in the ear canal, excess fluid in the middle ear or damage to the hair cells of the cochlea. OAE testing is often included in newborn hearing screening programs. 

As you can see, there are many tests that may be used to determine your type and degree of hearing loss. To learn more or to schedule an appointment, contact your Plano audiologist today.